A New Concept For Dan Ryan’s In Hong Kong’s City Plaza!

For me, the 90s marked the era of the American diner, grill and steakhouse. I remember the excitement when Dan Ryan’s first opened in Singapore next to the Regent Hotel.

Famous for its free kid’s balloons held down by a free collectible logo key chain, paper table clothes where you could doodle endlessly on and innovative kid’s menus – no one would have guessed that this restaurant chain was actually born and bred in Hong Kong with its first outlet opened at Pacific Place in 1989.

Dan Ryan, it seems, was a Chicago politician who lived in the 1940’s.  He was renowned for his ability to get things done through his close contacts in Washington D.C, mainly local political and social leaders. Why this particular American diner chain was actually named after him remains a mystery to me – but his name has undoubtedly lent authenticity to the Chicago grill concept that has since stood the test of time.

Today, there are solo outlets in Singapore and Taiwan with three restaurants in Hong Kong at Harbour City, Festival Walk and a new outlet at City Plaza in Tai Koo Shing which opened in May this year. We popped in to check out the new concept at the latter and to try the newly minted signatures off their menu which has been tweaked with healthier ingredient and superfood options.

How different was it from its parent concept that featured a good vibe, upbeat background jazz music, a drinks bar with a choo choo train track, paraphernalia up on the walls and huge portions of American style fare – to be truthful, all of that was still there – the only change being a longer track train and the more colourful paintings on the wall by American artists Leroy Neiman and Steve Penley. Instead of having a closed entrance where you walk into the bar, the new concept feels more ‘open’ where you can easily check your reservation at the entrance and walk into the thick of the action.

The kitchen also has gone from a back of the house feel to a lighter more open show-kitchen feel.  We popped by just before the recent Fathers’ Day weekend and what greeted us was a restaurant packed to the brim – a convivial atmosphere with families, balloons at each table, crayon canisters amidst a blurr of efficient waiters moving platters of steak and generous mountains of American salads, sides and sandwiches efficiently around the room whilst the queue outside kept growing longer. The place was buzzing!

The biggest change is noticeably its menu. No longer a grill room style listing that steak houses normally favour but a menu that features photos of its signatures which have also notably changed – keeping the hearty but introducing the healthy.

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My favourite item – the Dan Ryan’s muffin arrived before the rest of the meal. If I could sneak one or two into my bag, I would – as in my humble opinion, Dan Ryan’s makes the best muffins I have ever eaten. The taste is made complete when complemented by one slice of slightly melted salted butter or whipped butter.

 

 

We picked a few items to share starting with the Super Green Salad (HK$188) which is a very large salad that you can order to share between 3 to 4 people. It  has a base of fresh baby spinach, quinoa and rocket leaves, complete with avocado, broccoli, pears, fresh blueberries and toasted pine-nuts for added crunch and sweetness.  I really liked this and made a mental note that I would pop into their Harbour City outlet again soon to grab this one for a quick and satisfying takeaway.  The salad comes with a homemade wild blueberry dressing is drizzled on top for maximum flavour.

This was followed by the Chi Town Combo (HK$298), a signature big sized combo platter of Baked Potato Skins, hand breaded Onion Rings and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Great with a glass of wine except for the Onion Rings which I prefer to be crisp rather than soft and mushy like these tended to be.

The choices on the Hand Cut Steaks and Chops were outstanding. I was tempted to order the US Tomahawk 32 oz Steak to share (HK$998 – pictured above) but it was sold out for the day.  So instead, we ordered the US Prime Flatiron Steak (HK$328) which turned out to be an excellent choice and featured a melt-in-your mouth ‘butchers cut’ of hormone free beef, char-grilled to perfection served with Tomato Vinaigrette salad and mashed Chipotle Lime Buttered Corn and Sweet Potato Fries.

We ended the meal sharing a Salted Caramel Double Fudge Brownie (HK$78) which maxed out my calorie count but made a perfect ending.

Things I would have ordered if my stomach had the capacity : the Deluxe Chili Burger,  the Seared Hokkaido Scallops and the Dan’s Dessert Sampler (pictured above). Definitely reason to return!

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill at Cityplaza is at:
Shop 311, 3F, Phase 1, Cityplaza, 18 Taiko o Shing Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2845 4600

Click HERE for a list of the other Dan Ryan outlets in Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.

 

Tapas, Sangria and Beer Adventures in TST

Tapas is everything but a light meal especially when downed with a jug of good Sangria. Despite how often I convince myself that this meal is or could be a light affair, I often succumb to the temptation of ordering more than I should. And that’s exactly what happened at this new go-to that I recently discovered in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong or as the locals call it ‘TST.’

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Playa De Papagayo is my latest find, in terms of Tapas outlets. Located at Observatory Road just down from the Mira Hotel, next to the Empire Hotel and across from the Audi Showroom, you can’t miss this cute place with its patio setting, bright blue exterior and distinct beach hut hangout feel.

The enterprising owners apparently also own another smaller tapas restaurant of the same name, at Hanoi Road nearby and they also own the fantastic Japanese yakitori restaurant right next door.

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Papagayos, as it is called short-form beckons with a fun vibe. It’s not your typical Spanish joint but has a nice laid back feel and if the weather is nice, you can sit outside on the patio where there is casual seating.

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Wandering inside, the surprisingly spacious interior has a mix of sofa seats, lounge chairs, high tables with stools and bench seating, amidst the usual tables and chairs.

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A neon sign or two, a large open bar and the quirky menu with its beach theme feel add to the chill-out vibe.

The drinks are creative, portions good and not the nasty watered down version you get at most places. In terms of food, the menu is extensive from Spanish Tapas to Soups and Salads, Pastas and Mains, things from their Fire Grill oven and a small selection of dessert. The tapas portions are over-all ‘smallish’. I was not overly impressed with the usual tapas favourites like the Garlic Shrimp and the Octopus. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely tasty but you would need two portions if you are more than 3 people sharing.

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However, with a menu this extensive, normal should not be what you order at a restaurant like this. We decided to be adventurous and that spirit landed us some amazing eats like this list of top things to order that we are recommending. We are quite sure that you won’t get tapas like these anywhere else.

1.  Foie Gras Terrine, Fig and Rice Crispy Treat – HK$88

This bite-sized gourmet looking morsel looks like its ready to be served at a high end cocktail party. It is the perfect size to daintily pick up with your fingers and pop into your mouth. You get more than a generous bite and an explosion of tastes out of this very decent bite-sized piece of medium-rare foie gras, topped with delicious fig jam, a slice of fig with a delicious popcorn morsel perched on the top. Wash this down with a glass of fruity red and you are immediately ready for another piece.  I would definitely order two portions of these as one of these beauties as one plate is simply not enough.

2. Crab Meat and Avocado Roll with Salmon Caviar – HK$88

I am clueless as to how they make the gold coloured gel-like skin that looks like a wonton wrap and envelopes the tasty crab meat and avocado filling inside this almost beautiful h’or oeuvre.  Garnished with a dash of mayonnaise and Japanese caviar, this is delicious to the boot.

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3. Iberico Ham in Raw Tuna Roll with Half Boiled Egg – HK$78 

Not quite a main course, but this is a good sharing portion that you want to order a side of garlic bread for, just to mop up the runny egg. The tuna is just lightly seared, the way you would see it at a Japanese restaurant and really goes well with the egg.

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4. Kurabata Pork Chop with Apple Paste – HK$298

This pork dish makes an excellent main course if you are dining alone or slice it up and you have a decent main course to share along with the other tapas treats that you have picked.

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5.  Spanish Style Beef Ribs – HK$368

The beef on the bone that was served was literally huge. More than adequate for sharing and way too much for one person to finish alone. Beautifully coated and grilled in black sesame seeds, this gave the meat a juicy and tender texture. Definitely, a new favourite meat dish for those with carnivorous leanings, like me.

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6. Must-Order Paella – HK$288

We saw many people order this dish which comes served in an impressive Moroccan style tagine instead of the usual paella pan. I was intrigued and ordered the Squid Ink version (not shown in picture – as squid ink does not photograph well) which truly turned out to be one of the best paellas I have ever eaten. Moist, full of exquisite flavour – each bite leaves you abandoning all courtesy so that you can dig your spoon in for another bite.  At the end, all I could see was the satisfied smacking of everyone’s slightly-stained black lips.

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7.  Excellent Sangria, Beer and Creative Cocktails 

This restaurant gets my vote for good Sangria. The bartender serves an excellent mix – not too sweet, just the right amount of fruit and definitely enough vino to give it a good ‘kick’ start to a fun evening.  My 12 year old swears by the Mango non-alcoholic cocktail.

By the end of the meal and a few more jugs of sangria later, we were too full to try dessert which definitely gives us a reason to return.

Where: 

Playa De Papagayo is at

Shop N3, G/F, Podium Plaza, 5 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 – 2739 1808

and

Shop 2 , 5 Observatory Rd Tsim Sha Tsui                                                                                                     Tel: +852 – 2323 1379

 

Kazahana in Wanchai – Glass Grill Teppanyaki, Sushi and Sashimi

Here’s a lovely new Japanese restaurant that I recently discovered in Hong Kong’s Queen’s Road area in Wan Chai.

Kazahana is essentially a  Teppanyaki and Sushi restaurant that combines a casual ground floor eatery (seats 35) with private VIP rooms for 6 to 12, a more intimate Teppanyaki salon (seats 22) on the second floor and an impressive Sushi and Sashimi restaurant (seats 35) on the third floor.

The concept seamlessly brings together the skills and combined experience of two pedigree Chefs – Sushi Head Chef Milton Lau, previously from the michelin-starred Ginza Kyubey restaurant in Tokyo, reputed to be the best sushi restaurant in Japan and Teppanyaki Head Chef Choco Chan, previously from the one michelin-starred, I M Teppanyaki and Wine in Hong Kong, known for their use of top notch ingredients and grill specialties.

I headed there with a few friends for Teppanyaki and ended up sharing the Abalone, Boston Lobster Teppanyaki Course (HK$1,480 for 2 persons) which proved good value for money considering how fresh the live catch was.

What arrived was a hearty Appetiser followed by South African Abalone, Boston Lobster, Sliced US Sirloin Beef, Fried Rice and Dessert – a substantial meal indeed with a nice amount of flair and drama in terms of food theatre as everything was prepared, laid out and cooked ala minute on a state of the art glass grill rather than on the usual Teppanyaki metal hot stove tops that one expects to see in a traditional Teppanyaki place.

For Teppanyaki connoisseurs or those out for a more lavish treat, there is a more elaborate shared menu for 2 that goes up to HK$2,680 and includes 3 kinds of Sashimi, a King Crab Salad, Japanese Snapper, Abalone and Wagyu Beef and ends with a King Crab Congee and dessert.

You can also order add ons like the  Jumbo King Prawn which feature grilled king prawns drizzled with a sauce made with Japanese Sea Urchin and Truffle oil that give this dish an amazingly rich flavour.

The Salon itself is small, cosy and intimate and a good choice if you are hosting a fairly private dinner party and there are four private stations that seat groups of up to 4 to 7 that you can reserve.

A lunch set is also available daily at HK$188 per person featuring a Cod Fish Teppanyaki Set Lunch. Teppanyaki Set Dinners per person are available starting at HK$980 per person.

If its sushi you are hankering for then third floor eatery serves sushi and sashimi. Must tries we hear, are the Sushi Omakase Set at HK$1,200 per person where the selection of fish is seasonal and sliced in a unique style to maximize freshness.

KAZAHANA is at 83 Queen’s Road East, Portwealth Centre, Wan Chai.

Open daily Lunch from 12 to 1430 pm Dinner from 1800 to 2230 pm.                                     Reservations at +852 2865 7177.                                                                                                                                         Email: kazahanainfo@kazahanahk.com                                                                                                     Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kazahanahk

Restaurant Review: All Nighter Korean Chicken And Beer Delights!

It’s no secret that in the last two years, the Hong Kong fast food scene has been influenced by the growing K-Pop phenomenon.

Korean restaurants especially fast food joints have popped up everywhere capitalising on the Korean ‘chimek’ craze, combining the word ‘chicken’ with the Korean word for beer, ‘mekju’. This approach combining east and west flavours, has transformed a traditional fast food and humble fried chicken into a favourite snack that seems to have  transcended diverse cultures.

In Tsim Sha Tsui (or TST, as its fondly called) near the Mira Hotel and down from Knutsford Terrace, there is even an enclave called ‘Korean Town’ dotted with Korean supermarkets, mom and pop snack shops, eateries selling Korean fast food and Korean BBQ joints.

Not confined to just that area and relatively nearby, at Hau Fook Street – parallel to Kowloon’s hugely popular shopping area, Granville Road, we were invited to check out CHIBEE, the latest Korean Chicken and Beer outlet there. No guesses what the ‘Chi’ and ‘Bee’ in their name stands for. The big difference about this particular Korean outlet is the fact that they pull an all-nighter and they are open till 5am with a sports bar vibe that has them screening live football and sports matches till the early hours. A perfect spot for insomniacs, supper lovers and sports fans who want a place to congregate past the witching hour.

Chibee’s first outlet made its debut in Causeway Bay in 2015, It opened as a roaring success with a winning recipe of fried chicken with spicy sauces and delicious snack-style bites washed down with bottled beers and soju.

Outdoor Balcony at TST

Inspired to open another outlet, the owners have given its second branch a hip interior and a rooftop balcony so that you can chill outside, perfect for the Winter months. It opened recently in Tsim Sha Tsui’s H8 Food Mall on September 22. this year.

In terms of food, the formula is the same, but the menu has definitely expanded to include specialties that you can only enjoy at this particular outlet.

We headed over for dinner last week to try a few of their exclusive items. The first was the Fondue Chicken that comes with curly fries and a cheese fondue with a side of Korean pickles. I would have preferred the cheese to be a bit more melted and drippy but otherwise a nice snack that washes down well with a tall glass of Korean beer.

Chicken, Fries and Cheese Fondue (HK$152)

Their Dino Cheese Balls (HK$60) made of minced chicken and cheese is another item unique to the Chibee TST branch. Think of these as large-size Chicken Meat Balls mixed with cheese. They are hearty and you are meant to tear them apart to go with the dipping sauce that taste a bit like a cole slaw.

The drink that you see in the picture below is a definite signature to Chibee. This is called the Strawberry Cider Rita (HK$98) and features a bottle of Sprite suspended over a Strawberry and Cider mix.

Dino Cheese Balls (HK$60)

The best fried chicken dish I had that night was this most definitely this addictive number – the Fried Nongshim Noodle Chicken (HK$168). The chicken is coated with favourite Korean Nongshim noodles before deep frying, This gives the Chicken a delicious crispy exterior with that salty ‘mah-mee’ noodle taste. Pair this with a mild dipping sauce, Korean pickles and a bit of salad and you won’t stop at one basket. Heart ‘clogging-ly’ good and most certainly calorie-worthy!

Fried Nongshim Noodle Fried Chicken (HK$168)

We also had a few accompanying orders of a totally tasty hotpot noodle dish which I will not hesitate to order again – the Budaejjigae (HK$220). We also had some Shin Ramyun Chicken (HK$168), Korean Rice balls  (HK$58) which are actually triangle in shape and generously covered in seaweed, and the Spicy Tteokbokgi (HK$98) a tasty rice cake that looks like cheong fun, famously used in Korean street food.

Lunch sets are also served, and the drinks menu offers a range of bottled beers, juices, cider and trendy fruit-flavoured sojus.

Where:

CHIBEE is at 23/F of 8 Hau Fook Street, just a stroll from Exit B2 of Tsim Sha Tsui MTR. Opening hours are midday-4pm on weekdays, and every night from 6pm-5am.  Tel:  (852) 2158 1818

 

Restaurant Review: HMV Bar And Restaurant In Hong Kong

Diversification is definitely the buzz word in retail today. Retailers especially book, music and movie retailers have had to move with the times or move out and make way.

I recall a time in Singapore in the 90s when HMV was the biggest flagship store on Orchard Road holding a retail location and size that only Apple (in today’s retail climate) would dare to occupy. It was a place where you would go hangout on a Saturday and know that you would see at least 10 familiar faces and spot even some local celebrities, just browsing and buying. Fast forward 15 years and music is now bought online and stored remotely and CDs have become collectibles and records, labelled vintage. How times have changed!

Which is why it’s been forever since I last walked into a HMV store so when I got an invite from HMV Hong Kong to check out the food at their Bar and Restaurant, I was piqued and curious to see what they had done with the brand. To see how the concept had changed and discover what had happened to the ‘music destination store’ that I once knew as the ‘Temple of Cool’.

The HMV Store is a 3 storey venue comprising about 38,000 square foot of space. Located in Causeway Bay, this is the brand’s flagship store in Hong Kong.

A lift from the street level (hidden somewhere behind the Wellcome supermarket fronting Causeway Bay’s Fashion Walk) brings you up directly to the eatery which is HMV’s Bar & Restaurant. The lift opens up on the 4th floor to a space that is big, warm and friendly. You feel like you have walked into a decked up school hall with some retail in one corner, a large stage area for shows and performances and to the side, a spacious bar and eatery that can seat about 230! Great, if there is a mini concert playing.

The Store and space has a “Live, Play, Eat” mantra – a bit of a throwback to the 80s Hard Rock Cafe “Love all, Serve all” rebel cry. Here, the concept is somewhat similar – an all-day dining venue with local talent and live music gigs thrown into the mix. However, with this store, there is a distinct retail element.

Whilst the sale of actual music (in the form of CDs and Records) no longer drives the cash register, there is a good cache of supporting merchandise on the 3 floors below that compliments the music genre. A quick wander down from the restaurant will bring you to a floor that sells audio equipment like turntables, head phones, vinyl accessories and speakers alongside Discs and Records and another two floors that sell Movies, Toys and Lifestyle items like bikes and accessories and Fashion including t-shirts, caps and bags, home accessories.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was seated for lunch. I expected something much more casual, a drinks and nibbles venue rather than a full blown restaurant but obviously, to reinvent the brand and to get that foot traffic into the venue, change has become necessary.

What they have done to the dining space is impressive and what they have done to the menu is even more commendable. Suffice to say that if you are here on Performance Evenings (Wednesday is Jazz Night and Saturdays are for Pop and Acoustic) or if you find yourself just browsing for a bargain from their movie and CD section, then you should actually also go ahead and book a spot for dinner too.

No disappointments on the menu as their new Chef Macy Lai hails from the right restaurant pedigree having worked with Bo Innovation and Jamie’s Italian here. She’s introduced an extensive menu that offers all-day breakfasts, health conscious items, more than decent drinks and desserts and even trendy Korean shaved ice to catch the current rage for all things Seoul.

Plating and presentation have elevated the overall experience from diner to restaurant. I am a fan of the visual feast so I appreciate the effort put into the showcasing of each dish and how rather than just plates she has incorporated planks, slabs and other fun ideas.

Our meal started with some of their recommended specialties like the Lemongrass Shrimp, Pomelo & Mango Mesclun Salad with Toasted Peanut (HK$98). There was a nice ‘tanginess’ to the salad dressing and the portion was great for sharing.

We tried two main courses. The first was the HMV Wagyu Beef Burger (HK$158) – good if you are hungry! The portion is generous and comes on a wooden plank. The wagyu is Australian beef, topped with mature cheddar, Roma tomato, smoked UK black treacle bacon, homemade jalapeño pepper mayo made using Japanese eggs, and Italian black truffles. Sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun, the burger comes served with thick cut fries and a homemade truffle mayo which comes in a mini mason jar was a nice and tasty touch to the whole meal.

I particularly liked the Lobster Uni Roll (HK$188) and I would come back for this one. Made from Boston lobster, Korean uni, homemade mayo, saffron, it is sandwiched in a buttery brioche bun. Visually stunning there is a lot going on with this dish. It came served with side of local sweet corn and crispy lotus chips which were absolutely crisp and delicious. Note that only 20 portions are available daily so place your order when you book.

To commemorate what would have been the late Leslie Cheung’s 60th birthday, we also decided to try the Dessert Platter Special Set (HK$88 from now till 11 October) featuring an Earl Grey Puff, Raspberry Opera cake, Passionfruit Tart,  Blueberry Macaroon and White Chocolate Orange Truffle.

And ordered a drink from a menu of mocktails (starting at HK$58). All part of the special ‘Leslie’s 60th Promotion’).

By this time, we were too full to sample the Korean Ice Desserts or other recommended menu items like the Slow Cooked Canadian Pork Loin Sandwich with Red Cabbage Compote & Mustard (HK$128), the Grilled Bacon & Brie Cheese Sandwich (HK$68) and the Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle (HK$138). Saving these to try, the next time we visit.

Besides the good eats, other compelling reasons to head down the next time you are in the vicinity:

  • The place is open for Brunch from 10am.
  • There is an All Day Breakfast – served everyday from 10am daily to midnight.
  • On Fridays and Saturdays, the Restaurant and Store closes at 2am – a great place to head for a post-midnight snack!
  • Students who present their Student ID Cards, all get a 20% discount!
  • There are regular LIVE performances twice a week.  Mark your diaries for 8pm to 10pm on Wednesdays (Jazz) and Saturdays (Acoustic Pop) as this is when the stage lights up for Local Live Performances, DJs and other performances. See the schedule HERE or HERE.

HMV Bar & Restaurant is at 4/F, Pearl City Mansion, 22-36 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: (852) 25041538. See: www.hmv.com.hk

Celebrity Kitchens In Hong Kong

Its no secret that Chefs all over the world who want a presence in Asia open first in Hong Kong just to see if the 9 million plus (unofficial population) will bite the bait, so to speak. So, if you are headed to Hong Kong, in search of the who’s who – here’s a list of what and who to check out!

Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and London House

More charming than hellish in person, Gordon Ramsay has gone on to open two restaurants in Hong Kong. His Bread Street Kitchen opened in 2014 at LKF Hotel followed by London House which opened in TST in 2015.

Bread Street Kitchen has a gastro-bar feel to its menu with items like its delicious Tamarind spiced chicken wings, spring onions, coriander. There are also hearty meat dishes like the Dingley Dell pork BBQ baby back ribs, Cote de boeuf and for dessert a rather irresistible Sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream. It’s a good choice for date night as the place has a nice buzz with a shared table concept. Also a great place for Sunday brunch with the kids.

Bread Street Kitchen – Mezzanine Level, LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street, Tel: +852 2230 1800 

London House is definitely more of an English pub type concept. Expect the latest game to be screened, live entertainment on weekends and a wide menu of beers, ales and drinks alongside comfort food like Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, my favourite – the Potted Crab with Seaweed Toast and Bread and Butter Pudding.

London House – G5, Tsim Sha Tsui Centre, 66 Mody Road, East Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: +852 3650 3333 

Jamie Oliver’s Italian

Similarly Jamie Oliver also has two restaurants in Hong Kong. Both a spin off from Jamie’s Italian in the UK. Casual dining at its best, Jamie’s Italian has two branches – one in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong island and the other in Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

Expect a fun evening of affordable all-day eats and drinks, lots of canned food on your table to hold up their signature planks full of fish and meat starters. The menu is filled with easy eats like their Hong Kong Hot pizza, Prawn Linguine pasta, the Lamb Lollipops and the Epic Brownie for dessert.

We like the fact that they have a good kids menu, interesting cocktails – our favourite is the Bramble, decent wine – try Jamie’s Rosso and the fact that each of the restaurant’s has been uniquely designed to incorporate the history and personality of the city, as well as creating an environment where the focus is on exceptional food, good company and the relaxed conviviality of the ‘Italian table’.

Jamies Italian

2/F, Soundwill Plaza II- Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3958 2222

Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel: +852 3758 3333

Jason Atherton’s 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry & Aberdeen Street Social

Unlike self-made and self-styled Gordan and Jamie, Jason Atherton started out working under great chefs like Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining the Gordon Ramsay Group in 2001. After launching ‘Maze’ in London and overseeing the opening of five more ‘Maze’ restaurants globally, Atherton left Gordon Ramsay Holdings to launch his own restaurant group. To date he has quickly expanded into London, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai. He has already opened 3 restaurants in Hong Kong – 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry and Aberdeen Street Social.

Ham & Sherry is definitely the place to go for light bites and a drink – nothing too pricey. There is a good and wide variety of Spanish tapas style eats and Asia’s largest list of Sherry.

Ham and Sherry – 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2555 0628                         

Opposite this eatery and along the same stretch of road in Star Street, you will find 22 Ships, a great choice for a night out with friends as it has a buzzy party pub feel to the ambience and food (also tapas inspired but incorporating a mix of European and Asian ingredients) is all about sharing. Good wine list with a nice cache of Spanish beers.

22 Ships – 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2555 0722                                  

Aberdeen Street Social is his latest offer in Hong Kong and takes on the party crowd in a hip setting. Located at PMQ (the old Police Marine Headquarters) in Central, this newly opened venue has two floors with outdoor terraces.  It is the sum of many parts – a restaurant with a private dining room, an all-day cafe, cocktail bar and a retail space that sells confectionery and sweets.

Aberdeen Street Social – PMQ at 35 Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2866 0300

Alain Ducasse’s Spoon

With sweeping views of the Victoria Harbour, once French national and now a citizen of Monaco, Chef  Alain Ducasse’s 1 michelin star restaurant, Spoon is located at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kowloon.

All about the ultimate expression of culinary freedom, sophistication and design, it’s contemporary French menu brings together Asian produce prepared in French tradition with an excellent wine menu, where pairings are offered with your meal.

Prices here go from whatever you order on the ala carte menu to a Le Printemps set menu at HK$888 per person to a Discovery Menu at HK$1,688 per person.

Spoon – InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 2313 2256

Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier, Le Cafe, Le Jardin and Le Salon De The

Awarded three Michelin stars by the MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong and Macau for the fifth consecutive year.  It’s owner French chef and restaurateur, Joel Robuchon has won several titles including “Chef of the Century”, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (France’s Best Craftsman) and he has published several cookbooks and hosted culinary television shows in France.

His main restaurant in Hong Kong is located at the Landmark Shopping Centre where it opened its doors in Hong Kong in 2006, featuring an intimidating decor that is all about lush red velvet seating complemented by dark wood furniture. The restaurant has gone on to  become an institution for French fine dining offering a variety of great French classics in innovative tapas style portions. Over the last three years, he has also opened several variations of the fine dining concept including a Cafe, a Cake Salon and Roof Top Dining area in selected locations around the city.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon features a circular bar enveloping an open kitchen, allowing customers to witness all aspects of cooking, from food preparation to the plating of dishes. A Lunch Set Menu starts at HK$598, a Discovery Menu at HK$2080. If you just want to check it out the fare then perhaps the Canapés Menu at HK$280 for Happy Hour at 6pm to 730pm is the thing to try. There is also a menu of Desserts at HK$170 each, an Ala Carte menu and even a menu if you are Vegetarian.

Le Jardin has an elegant interior setting and looks out to a quaint roof top garden. It offers a contemporary fine-dining experience and a menu of gourmet French cuisine.

Le Salon De The is a French tea salon that offers a great selection of sandwiches, bakery products, pastries and cakes, and coffee/tea for dining-in and takeaway. It is one of the best tea salons in town that famously serves afternoon tea, croissants as well as macarons. Their High Tea Set starts at HK$280 each or HK$528 for two.

Joel Robuchon’s – Le Jardin, Le Salon De The and L’ Atelier are at Shop 315, 334 and 401 at The Landmark, Central District, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2166 9000.                                                                                  

Le Cafe is a much more casual version of the Atelier. The same heavy signature colours mark the Cafe but the menu is more casual. They also have a High Tea for 1 at HK$280 and for 2 at HK$580 and Crepes and Waffles on a separate menu. There are also sandwiches, crispy pockets and desserts, a boulangerie selection and drinks. All generally slightly above your regular cafe prices, naturally, but then again this is a spin off from a 3-star michelin experience!

Shop 2608-2610, Level 2, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Tel: +852 2327 5711.                                                                                                                                       

Nobu

Nobu in Hong Kong is the first of Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s restaurants outside of Japan. Known to the world simply as “Nobu”, his empire of Japanese restaurants located around the world spans from Beverly Hills to New York City, London to Tokyo, Aspen to Milan, Las Vegas to Miami Beach, as well as the newly launched NOBU Hotel brand. The restaurant opened in Hong Kong at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui in late December 2006.

His training stems from Tokyo sushi bar roots and his life abroad in Peru and Argentina (think Nikkei-cuisine) and his travels around the world inspired him to create a whole particular new trend in Japanese cooking that features signatures like his fresh yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, black cod saikyo yaki, toro tartar with caviar, white fish tiradito, sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing, rock shrimp tempura, soft shell crab roll and new style sashimi.

New creations that showcase local ingredients include Saga Beef Truffle Nigiri Sushi, Hirame XO Salsa, Sake Roasted Chilean Seabass with Sansho Salsa all feature at this Nobu.

Nobu – 18 Salisbury Road, The Intercontinental Hotel Hong Kong, Kowloon, Tel: +852.2313.2323                                                                                                                                 

 

Akrame Benallal’s Restaurant Akrame and Vivander Atelier

For a 33 year old, French born, Algerian Chef Akrame Benallal has come far and fast. Benallal was mentored by two of the world’s great chefs – Pierre Gagnaire and Ferran Adria (El Bulli). His cuisine sees fish and seafood as treasured ingredients and often the focus in his dishes. His signature is the way he cooks lobster in an infusion at the guest’s table. Other familiar elements lean towards the inclusion of black, his favourite colour, as well as handcrafted, hand-churned butter, with which he has an enduring fascination.

He opened Restaurant Akrame, Hong Kong along Ship Street in 2013. In 2014, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star.

Ever eager to embrace change, innovate and elevate, in March 2016, he relaunched his menu – introducing an inventive new tasting menu paired with his own line of culinary juices paired with a four, six or eight course menu option where components of each dish are complemented with a selected fruit blend. Menus start at 4 courses for HK$788 with juice pairing at HK$198.

Akrame – Shop B, G/F, No. 9 Ship Street, Wanchai Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2528-5068                      

His second Hong Kong restaurant, Atelier Vivanda is a take on the traditional French bistro. He opened this in June 2015 next to Restaurant Akrame, also along Ship Street. The same street has since become known as michelin row as it has also become home to michelin-starred names like Bo Innovation and 22 Ships.

Atelier Vivanda serves classic French meat dishes with twists of Chef’s famous creativity in a comfortable, casual setting that recalls the atmosphere of a countryside butcher’s studio. Menu selection is minimal, where high quality gourmet ingredients are simply prepared to casual classic French recipes, showcasing twists of Chef’s distinctive style in adventurous and unexpected flavour combinations. A light lunch is offered at HKD128, alongside a more substantial lunch menu at HKD298. Dinner is available from 6pm onwards and is priced at HKD448.

Atelier Vivanda – G/F, 9A Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong.  Tel: +852 2109 1768                                                                                                                           

Catalunya

Opened in 2013, the opening team from the world-renowned Michelin three-starred El Bulli opened Spanish restaurant Catalunya in Wanchai’s Morrison Hill area. The 5000 sq foot restaurant boasts an El Bulli alumnae headed by Group Executive Chef, Mr Alain Devahive Tolosa and Group General Manager, Mr Pol Perelló, a Spanish native who held a similar role at El Bulli for over 10 years, so you can expect something pretty special.

This is one group that opened very successfully Catalunya first in Singapore at the Marina Bayfront and has now come to Hong Kong. Signature dishes from its restaurant in Singapore including items like their Cod Esqueixada, Roasted Meat Cannelloni, Lobster Rice, Roasted Suckling Pig with Lemon Puree, and all-time favorites such as Spanish Bombas and Truffle Bikini feature alongside a comprehensive Spanish wine list and cutting-edge cocktails.

Catalunya – G/F Guardian House, Morrison Hill, Wanchai, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2866 7900

Demon Chef Alvin Leung’s, Bo Innovation

Bo Innovation has made big strides on the global culinary map. It opened in London late 2012 and won a michelin star for Bo London in 2014 but also closed that very same year, promising to return after a ‘refit’. If you are missing it, the Hong Kong eatery is still very much alive. Helmed by the self styled Demon Chef, Alvin Leung, Bo Innovation, earned its 3 Michelin stars in Hong Kong and Macau guide for 2014 to 2016 and still forks out extreme Chinese cuisine with a molecular touch.

The restaurant is located at Star Street. We first ventured there in 2012 when the lunch set was a humble HK$268 for a choice of two dim sum or Bo Signature appetisers, a choice of main course and dessert. A lunch drop by these days costs double at HK$430 per person for a Set Lunch (Entree, Main Course and Dessert) and HK$730 for the Chef’s Lunch. Dinner offers different menus with a basic Tasting Menu starting at HK$$1,680 per person with an optional wine pairing HK $1,100 per person. There is also a Chef’s Menu and a Chef’s Table Menu. Undoubtedly all serve premium ingredients like scallop, foie gras, unami, oyster, caviar, cod, Brittany blue lobsters, abalone, all beautifully presented, molecular in consistency, style and size (somewhat) and definitely innovative. Make sure you try their signature molecular cuisine specials the Caviar, Smoked Quail Egg at HK$280 and the Xiao Long Bao at HK$90. The latter is an expensive mouthful of one precious morsel occupying about ¾ of a Chinese soup spoon, laced with a thin red line of edible paper infused with dark Chinese vinegar. It had the texture of raw egg yolk, and once you popped it in your mouth, out oozed an intense, rich soup holding authentic XLB flavours. Very clever.

Bo Innovation – 60 Johnston Road, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2850 8371                                                                        

Restaurant Review: A Tale Of Sweet And Savoury At La Creperie

This Summer, I’ve seen at least three new crepe restaurants open to long queues in Hong Kong. Mainly popular for tea or dessert, Hong Kongers just love a sweet treat after a meal.

I like crepes and anything that wraps itself around a flavourful main ingredient! But this year, I have vowed to desperately stay off the sugar and cream (as much as possible) so I when I heard that there were savoury crepes being served up at La Creperie, I popped by with a friend for a bite at their recently opened (2015) eatery in Causeway Bay at the new foodie building, L Square in Lockhart Road.

La Creperie has more than one branch – three to be exact (in Wan Chai, Sheung Wan and now Causeway Bay) in Hong Kong and have been here since 2010 bringing authentic Brittany (French-style) crepes to Hong Kongers. Founded originally in Shanghai in 2007 by a Breton expat, Philippe Ricard, the restaurant also serves traditional specialties of Brittany.

All of their restaurants carry a distinct nautical theme from the wooden tables, to the lighthouses on the tableware, sea paintings on the walls, sailor uniforms for staff – everything pays homage to the Breton region, which is near the sea, in the North West of France.

The menu is impressive and extensive and the fact that they serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks makes this an attractive option for Happy Hour.

We decided to share a few things starting with a delicious crepe called La Capitaine  which was essentially a savoury buckwheat galette topped with Pan fried scallops, fondue of leek, diced bacon, creamy whisky sauce, salad and lemon. I really liked the texture and taste of the buckwheat galette which was outstanding, even if eaten completely plain.

For a main course, we debated between the Seafood and Meat items. We settled on a  Lobster Pasta (HK$138) – a spaghetti with homemade tomato and fish soup sauce served with a whole Indonesian lobster tail. It did not disappoint with its rich flavour and generous lobster bits.

Dessert was the La Sexy Suzette, a beautiful flambe featuring homemade lemon cream, mango ice-cream, flamed with Cointreau served on a wispy paper thin crepe. Beautifully presented and served, melt-in-the-mouth good with sour and sweet coming together delightfully.

And as a fitting and happy end to the meal, we took advantage of their cocktail menu and ordered a round to wash everything down.

La Tempête, a Tequila and Cointreau based made with lime juice, blackcurrant syrup.

If you are headed over and find yourself spoilt for choice, do note that the restaurant offers a variety of Set Menus which makes choosing your crepe combinations much easier.

There is a Weekday two-course Lunch Menu at an affordable HK$88-HK$138 featuring a choice from 10 different galettes and crepes including tea or coffee. Add HK$20 more, and you get their deliciously refreshing Brittany artisanal apple cider.

La Licorne

They also have a new Afternoon Tea Set at HK$62 to HK$118 with both sweet and savoury to choose from. We recommend the La Complete Deluxe galette with Emmental cheese and egg topped with black truffle cheese, or La Fermiere galette with chicken, mushrooms, creamy Dijon mustard sauce. If its sweet you are after, try the La Licorne  with fresh mango and raspberry and the La Quebec Saint Malo  with vanilla ice-cream, raspberry, and blueberries.

Brittany Oysters

On Weekends there is a Brunch A-La-Carte Menu featuring signature galettes, salads, pastas, and crêpes as well as traditional Brittany Clams Cooked in Apple Cider Sauce (HK$118) and Brittany Oysters (HK$218 for 6 pieces).

La Crêperie outlet addresses are here or find their social media pages here.